Catantan Catantan: Philippines’ pride.

A dream come true for Sam

June 16, 2022 Ed Andaya 289 views

THE 2024 Paris Olympics are still two years away, but Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Samantha Kyle Catantan is already looking at the big picture.

She is willing to do her best to achieve her lifelong dream of competing in the world’s biggest stage.

“My dream is to become an Olympian. I really feel na hindi ako mag stop ng fencing hanggang hindi ko na-achieve yun goal ko. Sabi nga, never give up on your dreams regardless of the time it will take to achieve it,”said Catantan during the “Sports On Air” vodcast recently.

“First, my dream is to win the SEA Games gold medal. At ngayon na nakakakuha na ako ng gold medal sa SEA Games, siyempre next step ko po is the Asian Games. Yun makakuha din ako ng medal. And hopefully, Paris Olympics will come next,” added Catantan.

“Kung magsunod-sunod yun mga magandang resulta, it coud be a good sign. Right now, step by step. Sana makapasok ako sa Olympics.”

The 20-year-old champion from Penn State College captured the gold medal in the women’s individual foil event in the 2022 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi.

That came after getting the silver medal in Malaysia in 2017 and bronze medal in Manila in 2010.

“It’s really a dream come true for me. I got a silver in 2017 and a bronze in 2019. And finally, on the third try, I got what I wanted — a gold medal for the Philippines,” explained Catantan, who defeated Maxine Jie Xin Wong of Singapore, 14-12, in the final of women’s individual foil at Hanoi Indoor Games Palace.

She said the long hours spent in training and actual competition in the United States where she is now studying paid off.

“Since I went to the US in 2021, patuloy pa rin yung mga training and competition. It was not the same during normal situation but almost every month there’s competition,” explained Catantan who is also scheduled to compete in the Asian Fencing Championships in Seoul, South Korea later this month and the Senior World Championships in Cairo, Egypt, in July.

“I think it’s a big factor in my development. At Penn State where I got an athletic scholarship upon recommendation of former Penn State fencer Non Panchan, I gained a lot of experience and confidence playing against the Americans,” stressed Catantan, who even earned MVP honor in her rookie year.

“Grabe po talaga maglaro ang mga Americans. Wala silang sino-sino. Kahit sino nasa harapan nila, iniisip nila na laging silang above the rest.”

A five-time UAAP MVP with University of the East under multi-titled national team coach Amat Canlas, Catantan had one piece of advise to fellow student-athletes.

“We know mahirap po talagang pagsabayin ang pag-asral at pagti-training bilang atleta. May mga times talaga na gusto mo na mag-give up. May mga times na ayaw ko na mag-fencing at gusto ko mag-aral na lang. May mga times din na gusto ko mag-fencing na lang at hindi na mag-aral,” explained Catantan, who is scheduled to fly back to the US to resume her studies at Penn State this August.

“But it can be done. Ang kailangan lang po talaga is time management. Everyday, every week, kailangang may goal ka. Yun naka-plano talaga ang araw mo para walang nasasayang na oras. Sa training at studies, every minute, every second counts. You have to give 100 percent every time if you want to be successful,” added the world No.129th-ranked Filipina champion.

Catantan’s triumph in Hanoi against a highly-rated opponent from Singapore was not totally unexpected.

“I always knew that I could win, but I was not expecting anything. I didn’t want to be disappointed in myself, so I just went out there and fenced like I have nothing to lose,” recalled Catantan.

While maintaining high respect to their Singaporean rivals, Catantan believes the Filipinos are capable of holding their own.

“Sa SEA Games, kaya po talaga namin mag-overall champion. Pero dahil nga sa pandemic, madami ang naapektuhan. Hindi kami gaano nakapag-compete sa mga international competitions kumpara sa Singapore, na lagi talaga nasa abroad para mag-compete. Iba yun international exposure nila,” stressed Catantan, a gold medalist in the Asian Under-23 fencing championships in 2019.

Given the chance, Catantan would like to share her experiences as a mainstay of Penn State.

“Dahil halos every month ang competitions sa US, sobra dami talaga nila. Umaabot higit 140+ participants sa national competitions, although malaki naman talaga ang US. Pero super dami ang mga batang kasali sa kanila. Kaya maganda talaga ang ginagawa ng fencing association natin ngayon na lalong palakihin ang fencing community para mas maka-encourage tayo ng mga batang fencers,”explained Catantan.

Asked about her relationships with her teammates in the national team, Catantan is proud of what they have already achieved.

“Matagal na din kaming magkakasama nila Maxene, Bing and Justine sa mga international competitions. Para na din po kaming magkakapatid dahil kilalang-kilala na namin ang bawat isa.Pero itong SEA Games po, medyo mahirap dahil matagal bago kami nag-compete na magkaka sama. Hiwa-hiwalay kami nag-training dahil sina Bing at Justine, nasa Manila or Ormoc. Si Max, nasa Italy at ako nga po nasa US. Ito ang unang competition na naglaro ulit kami nang sama-sama in two years.”

She was happy that the national fencing team was also able to train in a bubble in Ormoc thru Mayor Richard Gomez.

“Sobrang nakatulong ng malaki talaga ang mga training camps namin. And hopefully, we can train together again as one for our future intenational competitions,” added Catantan. with reports from Gab Ferreras